(For our third album review of the day, here’s Andy Synn’s take on the 2011 release by French band Bahrrecht on Ketzer Records.)
I originally picked this album up solely because of its dark, brooding cover art, depicting an ominous figure, shrouded in shadows, his distorted, cadaverous features crowned by a skeletal helm. Contained within I found ten tracks of violently cathartic black metal, a revenant risen up from the depths of the genre’s murky past.
The Bahrrecht itself is an enigmatic beast, concealing its true self beneath layers of lies and deception. Through its veins flows the titanic spirit of the lords of Blashyrkh, whilst beneath its bestial hide lurks a very human malice. Its powerful sinews flex with dark promise, moving with the dissonant grace of Deathspell Omega, its black heart beating in time with the angular aggression of latter-day Marduk.
Musically, the album stays true to these elements, inter-mixing its blasting savagery with imperial majesty and tribal mysticism, delivered with a freshness and vitality that belies its ghoulish nature. Yet behind its grim and frost-bitten visage lurks a mind as sharp and deadly as a steel trap, twisting and turning with serpentine aplomb, shedding the skin of ages past and discarding the useless remnants of useless nostalgia in favour of the sharpened clarity of reborn vision.
With a fuzzy low end and an array of unhinged screams, the album retains an ugly, underground aesthetic, the hectic pace of “Nuit de Neige” matched by a suitably maniacal vocal delivery, accented by the precision blasting assault and scalpel-sharp guitars whose more modern production allows each to cut through with impressive clarity and force.
“The Sign Of Bahrrecht Lotharingen Black” begins with a panzer blast of ferocity which steadily transforms into a more titanic beast of blackened fury and gravel-throated glory, channelling the regal impiety of Immortal through a prism of warped, primal fury, closing with a grandiose procession of sparkling, harmonic chords and aloof, imperious drum rolls.
“My Last Sunrise” is an icy blast of melody direct from the heart of winter, whose jangling bass lines and scattergun drums ripple with suppressed rage and power, while the funereal dirge of “Ode à Undredal” moves from moaning, ghastly chords into a more martial stomp, before a subtle acoustic break signals the coming storm.
Cold and callous, “Towards The Unconquerable Platforms Built By Wind” straddles the divide between ancient orthodoxy and modern misanthropy, weaving a tale of vast and empty forests and demonic elements over a barrage of dominating blast-beats and caustic, flesh-searing guitars, while spiteful vocal exhortations spatter the defiled ground with blood and venom.
With “Sous Une Pluie D’Etoile”, Bahrrecht unleash a blistering and acerbic torrent of incoherent rage and acid-drenched, buzz-saw guitars over which the shadow of the shifting, formless horror of Blut Aus Nord looms large. Surprising shifts of speed and structure showcase a subdued technicality that underpins the music throughout, tormented twists and turns digging and tearing at flesh and bone, leading to a conclusion of horrific ambience and monstrous, overwhelming devastation.
Presaged by a single, tortured scream, the bleak elegance of “I Was Born” ends the album on a grim and disconsolate note, like the howling bloodthirst of blizzard beasts carried on desolate winds, longing and forlorn. Only during the closing bars of blackened idyll do the cracked and broken vocals appear, their hollowness and depravity an apotheosis of despair.